Guest Column: It’s Stampede Season and “The Never Ending Rhetoric is Getting Old”

By Monika Courtney

Photo by Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine

EVERGREEN, COLORADO, (Horseback) – The never ending rhetoric is getting old. Reduce cattle permittees. Give back the land to the horses that BLM has taken over the last decades, perhaps about 20 million acres ? Create unbiased  AML’s not set too low for horses while favoring livestock, which is seen in the amount of land allotted to cattle, which is more than 250 million acres, whilst horses get 10% of that. Or tackle the cattle VIP mentality, which is between BLM and US Forest Service, 14 million of AUM’s for cattle annually, with only 400’000 to wild horses/burros, which is a 35:1 ratio. Quit the bias in AUM definition, which for cattle is one cow w. calf, however for horses, one AUM equals one horse.   With that considered, it seems so dubious of BLM to blatantly keep claiming there is “excess horses”…

Steps to prevent decimation of existing wild herds must be taken NOW. The program is dysfunctional as the hot debate in recent years has shown. Has BLM considered conflict resolution to resolve the controversies related to federal land management ? The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflicts Resolution (based in Tucson, AZ) offers help for people with differing views/interests to work together in a systematic and organized way to find workable solutions. Yet that would require true negotiation and inclusion by BLM to horse advocates – and all sides’ commitment to finding a solution, with one goal in mind: to improve the program and to ensure fair conservation methods.

Clearly, all grazing folks, cattlemen/hunters and BLM have historically never supported the cause of wild horses. Your current approach proves again the antagonism towards true protection which is not just reflected by you, but by the “range management profession” in general. Your agency’s perspective mirrors the motto: “remove, remover and removest”. With the latest addition of Callie Hendrickson to your Advisory Board, the typical establishment thereof with four of seven board seats at least occupied by “range professionals”,

hunters and cattlemen/sheepmen – giving majority control to the mustangs’ enemies, which is precisely what they are – your rhetoric of “caring for the wild horses” is plain BS.

You include advocates ? With invitations to staged round ups ? The public has pleaded for recognition and its rights on these lands – yet your Advisory Board has no citizen/advocate to ensure just that. It is made up solely of above individual special interests.

The ongoing cruel treatment the horses suffer has recently made the national news again. This was recent and the limping foals coming in are no exception, please get a grip of the reality !

The pursuit by airplanes and mechanized vehicles is cruel, period.
We the public, demand to be heard – so do various state legislators ! Callie’s views of high costs to managing the horses is nothing but an acquiescence to slaughter, hinting to the commercial harvesting as an expedited means of range clearance to make more forage available to vested interests. As long as BLM downplays the numbers, removes animals in any manner the agency deems feasible and denies the cruelty it inflicts – our wild horses and burros are at risk. Would your agency truly care for our input and involvement, you would welcome Craig’s conclusions and studies of Reserve Design as help to improving mustangs’ rightful place on our public lands and ensure their existence for future generations.

Yet the story is the same…. Americans care very much for their wild horses and burros who are subjected to your policies which are nothing short from scandalous.

Let me translate stampede according to the Oxford Thesaurus: SUDDEN FLIGHT OR HURRIED MOVEMENT OF ANIMALS OR PEOPLE. Stampeder: rush, run, race, panic, put to flight, frighten. The BLM’s unwillingness to admit the simple meaning of a word inconvenient to “BLM Speak” to pacify the public is the repeat stubborn, inflexible BLM attitude.The future of herds is threatened, we know Salazar’s plan. The horse removals have not helped nor improved range conditions (GAO study 1990).

Still as ever, wild horses are outnumbered by cattle. At time of above report, nearly 4.1 million cattle verses 42’000 wild horses grazing on BLM allotments, a ratio of 100 cows to 1 horse. Horses wander, so they damage less than cattle. Cattle camp near water, resulting in more damage. You also have targeted horse removals in remote areas, where overgrazing is not a problem; little to be improved via removal.

And the rest of the story is… in areas where BLM has removed horses, at the same time failed to reduce cattle grazing or even allowed it to increase. So please conclude now who has caused more damage to the federal range.

We are not satisfied with the current course of action. Your program is a complete disaster and needs to find a balance between both sides, not to support bureaucrats and ranchers’ political muscle only, but to hear the public whose plea is dismissed.

I can only hope that all people who truly care for our legacy and heritage will continue to take part in offering solutions, expertise and input, education and exposure of our mustangs’ plight – applying pressure and voices to see their beauty and relevance in this country’s history from an unbiased, non-greed driven perspective.

The accusations against these animals must stop, they are not the culprits.

6 comments for “Guest Column: It’s Stampede Season and “The Never Ending Rhetoric is Getting Old”

  1. MonikaCourtney
    June 14, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Thank you Louie. Very good info. Now if the BLM would just read english.

  2. Louie Cocroft
    June 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm


  3. Louie Cocroft
    June 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    RIGHT ON, Monika!
    America’s Wild Horses and Burros must, indeed, be given back the land that was taken from them. I’m guessing that 20 Million Plus acres is a conservative estimate. As we all know, they ARE NOT overpopulated.

    READER’S COMMENT from another article on HORSEBACK:

    Robert C. Bauer on June 14, 2012 at 10:50 am

    It is clear from the unwarranted brutality exhibited by the security issued by the Bureau of Land Management at this roundup, that the BLM are fearful and desperately seeking to conceal its activities. This tells me that it knows the illegalities it is carrying out by continuing these roundups, illegalities which come in many forms. In truth, there is no overpopulation of wild horses and burros out on the range lands. Indeed, the numbers are dangerously low to the point that if the roundups continue at the rate that they are, there won’t be any left in the next couple of years. Overpopulation is an illusion that the BLM continually seeks to perpetuate in the eyes of the public and congress in order to justify an unneeded wild horse and burro program, and therefore continued roundups. This illusion is carried out in a variety of ways and the numbers of wild horses and burros that the BLM assures the public are out there, exist only on paper and not in reality. The BLM consistently ignore mortality rates which according to a National Academy of Sciences study can be anywhere between 14% to 50% just in the first year of a wild horses life and between 5% to 25% for those wild horses older than this. It also ignores sex ratios which are roughly 50/50 out on the range, meaning only 50% ,give or take, are females and are able to put a foal on the ground. The illusion continues by ignoring the aggressive use of PZP, meaning those mares that are issued this contraceptive, for the next two years, are unable to produce a foal, a foal that may be male or female, and if female, as a general rule, won’t be able to reproduce for a couple of years. Many other variables are conveniently hidden, whereby, when looking at the population increases of wild horses, increases that the BLM are adamant about, reproductive rates would have to be enormous,far beyond what is conceivably possible, in many cases, over 100%, if all of the above variables were factored in. This illusion of overpopulation, the BLM are aware of, and is something that is becoming more and more apparent to the public. Yet it is not just the concept of overpopulation that the public is aware of, but also the methods by which the BLM are perpetuating this lie. It is by virtue of this, and the BLM’s escalated fear and desperation of being exposed, that such brutality has erupted. Speaking as one who has witnessed first hand, many times, conditions and numbers of wild horses and burros out on the range lands, and has tested the alleged numbers of wild horses that the BLM claim are out there, it is clear that there is no need for a wild horse and burro program and there is no overpopulation. Contrary to these claims there is very much an underpopulation of wild horses, close to point of a complete elimination of these creatures. It can also be adamantly stated that virtually every horse and burro in the holding facilities, now above 50,000 could easily be released back into their legally designated areas, and it would have no negative impact on the land, not to mention, saving the taxpayer millions of dollars every year. In truth, releasing these wild ones back into the original areas from which they were taken, and halting once and for all the roundups, would help bring balance back to the range lands of the west. The wild horses and burros are just this, wild, and in the wild is where they belong, to exist in accordance to nature’s mechanisms, and not according to mankind’s egotistical attempts in seeking to maintain a ” thriving natural ecological balance”. Only as we leave them alone in the wild, according to nature’s mechanisms, will they live on as the beautiful yet vital component of ecological balance that is so desperately needed.

  4. Sharon Kennedy
    June 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    The BLM does sin and violence against these horses and is making America an abominationnthinking that the Lord is not paying attention…..”The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have trangressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth; its inhabitants suffer for their guilt.” Isaiah 24:46

    God abhors cruelty and one day these horses will have full justice…God will pick the moment when American weeps for her sins and crawls in full humiliation. God owns these horses and not one of their injuries will be forgotten… day, the thunder of God’s power will be used on their behalf and the evil will rot and decay under His wrath and justice.

  5. Gene Ferraro
    June 14, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Nice piece Monika. Thanks for bring attention to this terrible situation and these horribly mistreated horses.


  6. MonikaCourtney
    June 14, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Reply from BLM PR : all text with (—-) is BLM reply.
    To: tcourt5096@ CC:,
    Sent: 6/12/2012 1:25:02 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time
    Subj: RE: BLM Winnemucca / DROUGHT / BLM response
    See responses in your email below:

    From: TCourt5096@ Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 8:13 PM
    To: BLM_NV_NVSO_Web_Mail; Godbey, Kaitlin E; Seidlitz, Gene E;;; BLM_WO_Director; Collins, Deborah A;; Emmons, Heather L; Krauss, Jeff; Spencer, Sally J; Gorey, Tom; Worley, JoLynn C;; Gorey, Tom; Pogacnik, Thomas M; Gilliard, Artealia A Cc:;
    Subject: BLM Winnemucca / DROUGHT / BLM response

    JoLynn, thank you for your reply (see below).
    Since the BLM had knowledge of a pending drought situation quite for some time, why is this “emergency gather” once again BLM handling of bringing in helicopters – instead of preparing it better ?
    (–The BLM always uses a contracted helicopter to gather wild horses in Nevada.
    We carefully monitored the drought situation in hopes of starting the gather at the scheduled time in July. Since water is limited in the southern HMA, how come BLM not implement better planning strategies but to conveniently remove the horses under the label of “emergency” ? —It is never convenient to gather and remove wild horses in an emergency situation.The BLM rarely conducts emergency gathers. )

    Why were cows of the permittee not moved before last week ?(—Permittees in the area voluntarily removed most of their livestock months ago.Additionally, livestock are managed—permittees have water rights and set up troughs and windmills on their allotments.)
    Since it’s such a drought, wouldn’t that have alleviated the pressure on the horses ? (—The excess numbers of wild horses in the allotment created pressure.
    When the few springs in an area turn to mud holes or dry up there isn’t enough water for any number of wild horses.) Why is cattle grazing continuing in the northern part of HMA, when it is in fact a drought as per BLM ? Normal cattle grazing continues, despite a drought ? Don’t cattle drink water… ? Apparently again, cattle gets VIP. (—Livestock are managed—permittees own water rights and set up troughs and windmills on their allotments.) When experts on bait/water trapping are available – why is BLM once again refusing to even consider such an option ? You could have brought in such methods of water trapping MANY MONTHS ago to reduce the trauma on the horses, yet again BLM chooses to go helicopter chase the little one week old foals instead. You claim water is so scarce in this area that you had to haul it in… yet water trapping would not work ?
    (—The BLM has expertise and experience with water trapping. We initiated water trapping in the southern portion of the herd management area, but the human presence scattered the wild horses away from the water source. Some animals didn’t return to the area, and those that did return days later were in even worse body condition.) Once again, BLM has proven, if there is an emergency, BLM applied unsatisfactory planning. If there is an emergency, the horses come second, cows get privileged consideration. If there is an emergency, BLM refuses to work with advocates and/or available experts to reduce the trauma for horses.
    (—The BLM has included advocates. They received notification of the potential to set up water trapping. They were invited to an on-the-ground tour—which none of them attended. And key advocates received personal phone calls and in-person meetings with the district manager before he signed the decision record for the emergency gather.)
    Clearly, this “emergency” is proving again, that removing the horses is BLM’s ultimate goal, whereas BLM’s rigid approach to such, the refusal to improve its management practices and the inability to change – is the continued havoc you so deny and question in your note to me. BAD is BLM norm, and this latest stampede is a continuous chapter in your nightmarish deficiency and mismanagement.
    You are making a mockery of any prior promises of reform or refuse to work with advocates to treat the horses the most humane – which is not what this is. Chasing tiny foals under helicopter when you had ample time to plan help in a more humane, appropriate way – is not acceptable. Whilst your PR head honchos scramble to keep the public’s outrage in check, the horses suffer and must go… the usual hasty BLM tactics. What a better opportunity to rid the range of horses in the competition with cattle, than a drought that affects only horses… ?
    (—The BLM has no interest or intent to rid the public lands of wild horses. It is our responsibility, which we take seriously, to ensure there will always be healthy herds of wild horses on the public lands. The drought conditions are affecting wildlife, too. There have been recent news articles in Nevada newspapers regarding the situation with wildlife. Wildlife in Nevada, including wildlife on public land, are managed by the State. The BLM manages the habitat on public land for wildlife.)
    Your agency is wearing a veil of deception – ongoing. Your extreme measures against our wild horses are a repeat – whilst you refuse to plan better and in due time to carry out a pro-active and truly humane management.

    And yes JoLynn, I have witnessed a stampede. Have you ?
    (—No. Unless one counts a stampede in a movie. But I have watched helicopter gathering of wild horses many times. A stampede is uncontrolled; a helicopter gather is the opposite of a stampede in that the driving of the wild horses is controlled. If a helicopter pilot were to apply too much pressure on a group of running horses they would scatter and it would be difficult to regroup them.)

    It was so disturbing, so utterly alienating – the sadistic and indifferent vibes of an agency throbbing against all common sense and decency in the midst of traumatized, terrified and unjustly removed horses – it changed my life forever.
    To get a grasp of the reality, you must step out of your BLM point of view for a day and try to see it from the perspective of those whom BLM so mercilessly persecutes and evicts. In order to truly understand the havoc your agency has and is still causing, please have the courage and read Craig Downer’s new book.
    It tells the history that BLM vehemently denies, the results of your agency’s mayhem, and the current tragedy that all Americans must know, not only because of the scape goated mustangs and burros, but who we are because of them and what they contributed.
    I am glad to send you a copy. Let me know.
    (—I appreciate the offer, but no thanks. The BLM is knowledgeable about Mr. Downer and we respect his right to his opinion and the conclusions he draws.
    –The BLM invites you to attend a wild horse gather and see for yourself how the gathers are conducted.)

    Monika Courtney

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